The national "Rise Up October" tour against police violence arrived in Chicago Wednesday. Progress Illinois was there for the tour's kickoff event, held outside Chicago police headquarters.
Relatives of loved ones killed by law enforcement spoke out in Chicago Wednesday as part of the national "Rise Up October" tour against police violence.
Spearheaded by Carl Dix and professor Cornel West of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, the tour is visiting several U.S. cities as part of an organizing effort that will culminate with a large march in New York City on October 24.
Gathering this morning outside Chicago Police Department headquarters, 3510 S. Michigan Ave., Dix joined over a dozen family members of police violence victims from across the country to announce the tour's arrival in the Windy City.
"We're going to be involving thousands upon thousands of people, manifesting in New York City, delivering a message to the country, and to the whole world, that this green light to cops who brutalize and murder is unacceptable," Dix said of the upcoming October demonstration. "It must be stopped, and we're going to be acting to stop it."
Dix said the tour is calling on Americans to choose a side when it comes to the issue of police brutality.
"Which side are you on," he asked. "There is no middle ground to stand on when dealing with this issue. You're either on the side of acting to stop it ... or you're on the side that it's OK for this to go down."
Among those involved with the "Rise Up October" campaign is Andrea Irwin. She is the mother of Tony Robinson, an unarmed 19-year-old who was fatally shot by a Madison, Wisconsin police officer in March.
Police say the officer was responding to calls of a disturbance and allege Robinson was running in traffic before he went into an apartment. Robinson was allegedly under the influence of drugs, and toxicology tests showed that hallucinogenic mushrooms, Xanax and THC or marijuana were in his bloodstream.
According to police, the officer fatally shot Robinson after an altercation allegedly ensued between them in the apartment the teen had run into. The officer shot seven rounds in three seconds, each of which hit Robinson, who was shot in the head, torso and right arm.
It was announced in May that charges won't be brought against the officer involved in the incident.
"My son needed help. He didn't need gunshots," Irwin said. "We need justice. These police officers that think it's OK to open fire on these people, take their lives and go on with theirs, they need to know that they have to be held accountable for their actions."
Here's more from Irwin and Dix:
Also at today's event was Cynthia Lane, the mother of Roshad McIntosh, 19, who was fatally shot by Chicago police in August.
McIntosh's death sparked protest in the South Lawndale neighborhood after accounts surrounding the shooting greatly differed between the police and community members. The police department has claimed, for example, that McIntosh was armed and pointed a gun at an officer.
Lane has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city and the officers responsible for the shooting death.
"I'm gonna keep fighting until I get justice for my son, because they killed him for no reason," Lane told Progress Illinois. "I'm not gonna stop until I get justice, because there was too many people out there that ... witnessed that my son did not have a gun, as the police said. They shot him while his hands were up. He begged for his life, and they still shot and killed him."
Lane urged other families of police brutality victims to join the "fight for justice."
That was also the message from Mertilla Jones, grandmother of 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones. The child was fatally shot accidently by Detroit police while she was sleeping during a 2010 raid at her home. The case against the officer accused in the shooting death was ultimately dismissed.
"I'm (here) all the way from Detroit trying to spread Aiyana's story," Jones said as tears streamed down her face. "I refuse to let her memory die, because she didn't die, she was murdered."
"We gotta take a stand," she added. "There's power in numbers. More people need to get up, get out and be about progress toward stopping police brutality."
The Stop Mass Incarceration Network is hosting a Chicago "Rise Up October" organizing meeting tonight at 7 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal/Anglican Church, 125 E. 26th St.
From Chicago, the tour will head to Ferguson, Missouri where similar events will be held on Friday.